Don't die a copy.
Stepping into Amanda’s studio/home is first a pleasurable calm with its clean open space and soft daylight seeping through simple blinds.
It’s not all minimalist practicality though – stay awhile and you’ll discover accents from the delightful to tickling, like a wall mural (painted by a talented student), punchy framed quotes and a macrame rope dog toy masquerading perfectly as a doorknob ornament.
My favorite spot is the kitchen, filled with plants and a window table.
Her space is welcoming, grounded and focused, with layers of character – much like herself.
“I like that my living space and my work space are one, because my personal passion and my profession and brand are also one,” Amanda shares.
Her work as a movement educator spans 15 years, which includes correcting problematic movement habits that lead to postural imbalances and pain. With time-worn wisdom and tailored guidance, she enables her students to feel good in their bodies, enjoy movement and do more with joy and ease.
“Yoga and pilates is a conduit to enabling this to happen, but I do not necessarily work with yoga or pilates in their exclusive form as it is very dependent on what the client is familiar and comfortable with as an interface to movement.”
Amanda’s career began with yoga and pilates group classes in gyms, but she gradually realised that in spite of them being a fun introduction to movement, they bear inherent problems when participants are left to show up for ongoing weekly sessions pitched at a multi-level aptitude and intensity.
She gradually outgrew an interest in specifically yoga and pilates classes, evolving to a present state of doing neither, yet also both.
While Amanda retains weekend teachings at Fitness First, as she enjoys a casual and lighthearted vinyasa class where all can have a good time moving with yoga poses, she came to find true fulfilment in a more thoughtful, intimate setting and holistic practice.
“I now teach from my own studio space, and it is a by-invite private studio working with individuals who are keen on change, progress and growth.
I didn’t want to participate in a consumer-led review and rating based industry that the yoga studio scene here was starting to become, and it was the best decision ever.”
In the past, as Amanda’s international work grew, she would travel out of Singapore to teach for a week or two at a near monthly frequency – this was her life for the last 6 to 7 years pre-Covid.
Now is the longest she’s gone without travelling out of the country to teach immersions, classes of hundreds and at yoga festivals all over the world.
The past two years of Covid-19 restrictions nurtured Amanda’s appreciation for a living-working space and an authentic tribe to connect with. A period of instability had beautifully enabled her to grow roots in the local community, more than ever before.
“I thought that this would be a period of difficulty but it has turned out to be a period that has been even more joyful and fulfilling as I learn to navigate new ways of teaching and connecting with people,” she says.
We are so glad to have been able to engage Amanda in a conversation on health and life, and hope her perspectives will add light to your own.
Meet – Amanda.
What is your philosophy for exercise, yoga and pilates?
Do what feels good in your body, at the right time, when a movement or position is comfortable and of ease to you. Movement should be a joy and enable you to enjoy your body, and should not be seen as an obligation or punishment.
There are so many possibilities for movement, so find what you enjoy, and indulge! I think moving in a variety of ways is the best way to experience all that your body is capable of, so I encourage newness and variety in what you choose to invest your time and energy in.
How can someone develop an emotionally healthy relationship with their body, physicality and exercise?
By differentiating what the yoga and fitness industry tells us we are supposed to be, and knowing that we are not in it to repair a fault.
By understanding when someone is speaking from a place of diet culture, and knowing that one’s worth is not dependent on how one looks.
This is now much less of an issue as even just 5 years ago. We are growing and maturing as a scene and things are getting so much better as we start seeing more diversity in our industry.
What is a benefit you’ve gained from yoga and pilates?
Realising that what is ordinary to me, is extraordinary to others.
I think that yoga and pilates is a great interface to learn to grow a relationship with our physical bodies, and are both practices that allow us time to process, grow and deepen our mind body relationship.
Are there misconceptions or generalisations about the practice you would like to address?
The yoga industry has a fetish for ligament laxity*, and those of us with it are often left to figure things out on our own in terms of creating stability and strength in our bodies.
[*Ligament laxity refers to having flexible hypermobile joints with a wider range of motion than most people - WebMD source]
The other misconception would be that many people think that yoga is supposed to be for all bodies.
The basic Hatha Yoga practice is suitable and beneficial for all bodies, but there are aspects of the yoga practice that are accessible only to certain people with advantageous anatomy and proportions, and a person who does not have said favourable anatomy would find attempting these aspects of yoga as injurious and non-beneficial.
The reason for this often is because of how yoga is sold as a way to increase flexibility and that one must therefore aspire to be as flexible as possible to achieve the benefits of the practice. This is entirely untrue as it turns yoga into something that becomes yet another task-based activity with a set of achievements to tick off a list.
This robs the practitioner of the joy of the practice and shifts it from something uplifting and enabling to something that is quite the opposite.
It’s easy to sell a service by making one feel inadequate and this is sadly how the yoga industry chooses to pitch with.
How should one train for long-term health, to build balanced strength and reduce injury risk?
Work directly with experienced and qualified professionals in the fitness and movement world, rather than turn up at group classes hoping that the session will somehow magically address your exact needs and issues.
Invest in training with good people, rather than trying to go on budget options, trial passes and looking to YouTube and social media as sources on fitness advice.
Also, realise that what works for one person’s body may not necessarily work for someone else’s. Working personally with a trainer who is able to give you differentiated cues and information would go a long way in your journey, even from the very start. It helps to see the journey as a process rather than as a quick-fix.
Everything you want is on the other side of consistency.
It also helps to train with someone with more than 10 years of experience. Less experienced trainers, even those with accolades and achievements in certifications and competitions etc., have not experienced the longevity of the way they choose to move in their bodies.
Check in with them 10 years into their journey and see if they still go about things in the same way… My guess would be no. Sufficient time to evolve is necessary, and also, to gain a wealth of experience in working with a diversity of body types and issues.
When performing rehabilitation exercises, can there be good and bad pain and how do you ascertain them as such?
Constant communication is necessary to enable clients/students to differentiate between how something ought to feel. For this reason, I prefer the sessions I teach to be conversational, rather than instructional.
This allows me to understand what my students/clients are experiencing, and enables me to better anticipate how they will go off on instructions and to therefore give more specific cues to lead them.
How do you live your best life?
By owning my space, owning my brand and being my own boss.
I made the decision that I will only hustle for myself, and that I do my best work when I am able to blaze my own trail.
What is your experience with social anxiety and how do you deal with it?
You can get on stage and teach yoga to a group of hundreds, and not personally interact with a single person. It’s a completely different situation in a small group setting of 10 or less where you have no choice but to personally engage.
I spent the first 10 years of my teaching life working almost exclusively with very large groups and when I needed to be relevant in a small group setting, I realised I had a lot of difficulty doing so and that it was a situation that triggered anxiety. There is no crowd-energy to ride the wave with.
The dynamic is completely different and that threw me off! The good thing about that was that I learnt to overcome that, and then [the Covid-19 pandemic] came along years later and I had to learn to teach to a screen with no one else in the room except myself.
If you could teach everyone in the world one concept, what would it be?
That everything will always be OK in the end and that everything that happens -
As traumatic and disastrous as it may feel in the moment,
Ultimately leads you to where you are supposed to be.
What is a motto that you live by?
Be unapologetically you, and your tribe will find you.
Amanda is 173cm and wears:
A-maze Midline Racerback in Size 12
A-maze Wrap 7/8 Leggings in Size 12
Freedom Plaid Bra (Mirri Tie-Dye) in Size 12
Freedom Plaid Bra (Valentine Pink) in Size 12
Energy Elites Seamless Leggings (Stone Blue) in Size L
Fervour Training Shorts (Bondi) in Size 10
Element Biker Shorts (Orchid) in Size L
Follow Amanda on Instagram @unapologeticallyamandakoh.